cover image Among the Gray Lords

Among the Gray Lords

D.J. Butler. Baen, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-9821-9313-3

Butler’s third picaresque fantasy featuring investigators Indrajit and Fix (after 2023’s Between Princesses and Other Jobs) is a high-octane romp. Indrajit, a poet whose work isn’t popular enough to pay the bills, and Fix, a former scholar-priest who left his religious order for a life as an unscrupulous businessman after a romantic disappointment, have been partners for several months carrying out inquiries for Orem Thrush, the high chamberlain of Kish. Mostly, they probe chicanery among financial traders. The duo gets a much different, and more personal, case when they search for Sanara Chee, a missing dancer favored by another noble. They successfully locate and free her, but in the process they witness her captor murder Alea, the woman who’s spurning of Fix caused him to abandon his ashram. Indrajit and Fix’s efforts to restore Alea to life bring them into contact with the giant wasp-men known as the Kattak, who may be planning Kish’s downfall, a prospect that only complicates the investigators’ already daunting task. Butler laces the plot with his trademark humor and the stakes feel higher than in previous installments, with nonstop action keeping the pages turning. It’s a pleasure to check in with these roguish protagonists. (Jan.)